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Parking Reimagined

October 12, 2018

Melissa Bean Sterzick

It might be well known or completely forgotten that I love when parking areas are used creatively. I’ve said it before in this column: I’m inspired when people reinvent the drab hardscape of parking.


My work with Parking Today has tweaked my life just a little as I know a lot about parking and often have to hide my knowledge. I got excited about flexible bollards one day, and my friends have never let me forget it. It was just that I’d read about them several times and hadn’t yet seen one in person.


If I’m out with my family and have too much to say about parking they tease me. Regardless, I remain a fan of a farmer’s market in a parking lot, a chalk drawing competition in a parking lot, a dance on a parking deck, and art displays in a parking garage.


This summer I discovered a new way a parking area can be used for happy purposes besides parking. My daughter attended a writer’s workshop at a library in a nearby town. I’d been to this library once or twice before, but parked on the street. This time we took the ramp into the garage and there I saw four parking stalls full of bookshelves. 


It was dim, but the shelves were clearly full of books and I was immediately intrigued. OK, maybe I was excited – not just about the books, but books lining the walls in a parking garage – and I gave my daughters another reason to mock me.


“What could it be? Are they storing books down here! No, it’s a book sale!”


As it turns out, this particular library sells books to raise money for improvements to its facility and collections. The books come from the library itself and from donations made by patrons. A lot of libraries sell books to raise funds, but this is the first time I’ve seen a book sale installed permanently in a library parking garage.


I perused the diverse selection thoroughly. I chose three interesting books for prices that added up to about $6. My payment option came as a surprise, too: cash only on the honor system. A secured box with a slit in the top accepted my money, and I gathered my books and drove away. I’m a little embarrassed to say I was delighted.


The next time I donate books, they’re going to this library because of the inventive use of garage space and the integrity of its fundraising strategy.


PARK(ing) Day is September 21 this year. It’s an annual event that encourages community members, students, and designers to transform metered parking spaces into temporary parklets. PARK(ing) Day is meant to educate people about the value of public space and what it can bring to a community. 


I love having a place to park my car – almost as much as I love seeing parking reimagined into spaces we can share with each other.



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